International Spotlight: Emily Madigan ('15)

Published on Nov 11, 2014

By Ashley Wolfgang

Senior Emily Madigan is currently taking her Photojournalism experience to a new level by studying abroad in Florence, Italy for the Fall 2014 semester via Columbia College's Independent Study Abroad program

Trading the windy Chicago skyline for the picturesque landscapes of Florence, Madigan spends her daily routine walking past gelato shops and leather stores to listen to her professors teach new photography skills in Italian accents. During her long weekends, she takes advantage of her time abroad to travel across Italy, camera in hand.

What inspired you to pursue study abroad in general, and why did you decide to pursue this particular program or country for your study abroad experience?

I knew since my freshman year that I wanted to study abroad. In high school I took a 10-day trip to Paris and London, which inspired me to travel again to Europe.

Italy has since impressed me with loving spirit towards other people and their lifestyle. Their care for themselves and their country does not compare to the U.S. Italian food is non-comparable and it has inspired me to care about what I eat and where it comes from. Two food classes I am taking have shown me how serious food production is valued in Italy. 

pizza pizza

Can you cite an example of how your in-classroom and/or out-of-the-classroom experiences at Columbia College have benefited you as you study abroad and traveled internationally?

My photography education from Columbia has helped me in my street photography class because we are challenged to communicate with the locals of Florence and take their portrait. I feel the photojournalism classes that I’ve taken helped me with that task. My technique and knowledge of classic photographers has set me apart in my class. My knowledge of analog darkroom photography has also helped me because it is alive and well in Italy, more so than U.S. in my opinion. 

street photography

How do you think this study abroad experience will benefit you in terms of your education, future career plans, personal development, etc.?

Since studying abroad, I have become more eager to get my career started. I think international travel should be mandated for college students because traveling pushes and challenges you to interact with uncomfortable situations. You grow as a person because you are more aware of others in the world and how other countries work. My confidence has grown a great deal because I chose to go to a country by myself without knowing Italian. Not knowing anyone has helped me become more independent and a better artist because it helped me focus on my work. 

Cinque Terre

Check out Emily’s work here

Learn more about Columbia College's Study Abroad opportunities, here